The last time Billy Keels’ Lewisville baseball program was in the 1A state championship series, it brought home first place hardware with a series victory over Bamberg-Ehrhardt. The Lions will get another chance this week, against Latta.
“I thought going into the season we had a chance to play for a state championship and possibly win a state championship,” said Keels on Sunday evening. “We started 1-3 and 0-2 in the region and a lot of people started writing us off. Our confidence was shaken a little bit.”
The Lions (20-8) were 8-7 after the first 15 games but really picked up steam following a strong showing at the Wheels Invitational in Rock Hill over spring break, winning 11 straight until McBee beat them in the first game last Friday night. Lewisville rebounded with a strong performance in the second game to eliminate their region opponents and advance to the finals.
The Lions have played in seven state championship series, winning six. Five of those came under legendary former coach Bennie McMurray. Keels’ team fell in the Upper State championship finals last season, losing to eventual state champs St. Joseph’s, but broke through this season with a win over McBee in Friday night’s second game.
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Lewisville senior Evan Sisk, who is signed with College of Charleston, struck out a school single-season record 109 batters and has a stingy 0.59 earned run average. Sisk is also the Lions’ top hitter, batting .449. Presbyterian College football signee Cody Montgomery bats .364, Tate Stevens .351, and Trey Keels .345.
Latta, making its third straight appearance in the 1A state finals, is also led by a College of Charleston signee. Sisk’s future teammate J.K. Love is another do-it-all player, leading the team on the mound with a 10-2 record, a 1.33 ERA and 112 strikeouts in just 78.6 innings. The 6-foot-7, 250-pounder is also dangerous with his bat, leading the team with 38 RBIs. He’s batting .477, while shortstop Jackson Williams leads the squad with a .537 average and 36 RBIs to boot.
Both Sisk and Love pitched in their teams’ wins Friday, making it not impossible but unlikely that they start Monday.
“If both of us had taken care of business it would’ve been them going against each other in games one and three,” said Keels. “Evan pitched seven innings Friday night so he definitely ain’t pitching (Monday).”
The Vikings lost the second game of the Lower State championship and had to win three straight elimination games to reach the finals, including two over Hannah-Pamplico in the Lower State finals Friday night.
Clover, Summerville both gunning for first softball state title
Clover makes its first appearance in the 4A softball state championship beginning Monday at Summerville. Neither school has even won a softball state title, though Summerville is making its third championship series appearances in the last five years.
Clover (21-10) lost in the Upper State championship finals last year to eventual title-winner Byrnes; Summerville fell in the Lower State finals to Bluffton. Monday night the two teams meet at 6 p.m., in Summerville in the opening game of the best-of-three series.
Blue Eagles senior pitcher Elizabeth Edmunds has gutted out the spring despite wrist tendonitis. But she and the Blue Eagles have been able to lean at times on the team’s sharp defense and powerful batting order, both efforts led by college-bound middle infield pair Marisa Harkey (Furman) and Blake Wallert (Winthrop).
In part because of injuries to Edmunds, Katie Robinson and others, the Blue Eagles experienced an uneven regular season. But Clover has won all six of its postseason games - without dipping into the consolation bracket once - by a combined score of 32-5.
The Green Wave (29-3) outscored its opponents 19-1 in the Lower State championship, winning in three straight games. A 5-0 shutout of rival Wando sent Summerville back to the state finals for the third time under coach Heather Tucker.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T
4A softball state championship series
Monday: 6 p.m. at Summerville
Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Clover
Friday: 6 p.m. neutral site (if necessary)
1A baseball state championship series
Monday: 6 p.m. at Latta
Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Lewisville
Friday: 6 p.m. neutral site (if necessary)